Once again I find myself using this space to complement a presentation I am giving. I apologise if much of what I am writing appears familiar to my regular readers. Since however my presentation is on the merits of class and student bloggers, please bear with me.
Perhaps you would like to add a comment to this post with further links or your thoughts on the merits of student blogging? Or your experiences of using edmodo in your classroom?
This post has been designed to supplement my presentation for The AIS leaders Conference. To be held on Monday October 31 2011.
Preparing students for their future not your past through the integration of web 2.0 tools, with an emphasis on edmodo and student blogging.
My students are lucky enough to have a netbook each to use this year. Besides that we have a flip camera and access to several microphones. We do not have any i-pads or i-pods. We use many of the usual software programs such as the Microsoft suite, including Microsoft Word, Power Point, Excel and OneNote. We use the SMART notebook software, so that students can create their own IWB files. We also teach them Scratch, Photoshop, photo-story and more.
I am a strong believer in using tools to support my program and their learning rather than just for the sake of it. The web 2.0 tools I am recommending here do, in my opinion, fulfil that requirement.
We use the Microsoft suite for word processing and data organisation.
We use OneNote to organise our research, ensuring student note take and do not plagiarise, a problem that occurs even in year 5.
We create audio files using audacity.
We connect with students around the globe using edublogs
We discuss our work, share links, display our learning and much more using edmodo
We learn, play games, learn words and take spelling tests in Spelling City
We play learning games through scootle.
We learn mathematics using Mathletics and Study ladder and nrich mathematics
We create picture books using Story Jumper
We create interactive posters and presentations using glogster or prezi
We reflect on our learning using Memiary
We share using skype to connect with students around the globe
We use Ustream to show to our community drama productions and recitals
We research using Google and other search engines such as duck duck go, ensuring our students have a good working knowledge of its advanced search features and creative commons licensing.
We direct student research using a static webpage of selected links built in Weebly.
We watch videos to aid our learning via Teacher Tube and U-tube
We create our own movies to display our knowledge using SMART notebook software and Windows movie maker
We create slide shows to display our learning using photopeach and slide.com
We create surveys using survey monkey
We collaborate on note taking using Google docs
We use our school moodle account to create courses in.
Oh and we also hand write using pen and paper and we have even been know to read real books too!
By far the most important to us is edmodo and our class blog year 5rc off of which can be found many of our excellent student blogs.
To learn more about the uses of edmodo I recommend you check out this Edmodo Guide from Patrick Cauley at itbabble.com it can be found here. Patrick has given me full permission to share his excellent guide with you. If you find it helpful, please respond with thanks to Patrick’s blog.
As far as class blogging is concerned, there are many different blogging platforms. In my class I use edublogs. Edublogs are an Australian company with excellent support and advice. Another company that some schools like to use is kidsblog.
I personally believe that we need to teach our students to create a real and honest digital footprint. I am convinced that they will create one over time whether their teachers or parents want them to anyway. I am sure that it is far better to start early and to teach them how to be safe. Than to attempt to block, filter and close our eyes to what they get up to. In my classroom we use the secure on-line discussion forum of edmodo as an ‘in-house’ filtering system and we allow them to make mistakes in it. We use our class and student blogs to display our public face.
I am aware that many school leaders and teachers have concerns about student blogging, so I have included some excellent posts here which delve into the merits of student blogging. What I do I know, is that in my classroom the bloggers are motivated and interested in writing for an authentic audience. That they get a sense of purpose and excitement knowing that others besides their teacher and peers are reading what they are writing. That watching their flag counters rise gives them a thrill. And yes, being allowed to choose widgets and coloured backgrounds is also fun.
I would like to encourage you to please read 20 reasons why students should blog by Anne Murcha. Or why blog with students by Adrian Bruce. There is also an interesting wiki with loads of information called Support Blogging. These three sites should be able to answer most of your questions and allay many of your fears about blogging with students. Edublogs an Australian blogging platform has just reached 1 million blogs. Read more about it here. Australian librarian Jenny Luca too has written a really convincing post six reasons why kids should know about blogging.I came across this excellent blog written by a student teacher called Zoe with many references to research articles supporting classroom blogging.
Zoe quotes “Blogging can potentially provide students with a window into peers’ perspectives, a doorway to a global audience, and a mirror though which to reflect on their own thinking and writing”
(Ellison & Wu, 2008: 119). I would definitely agree with this perspective.
If you are interested in viewing some of the excellent class blogs from around Australia please check out this earlier post.
Many teachers will argue that running a class blog takes up valuable time. I would argue that to not run one deprives students of an authentic and real audience. An audience who will be interested in what is going on in your classroom. The time it takes can and should be viewed as part of a classroom literacy block. To write a post on my class blog takes me or my co-teacher mere moments of time. I can even do it from my phone while on excursions. We also view it as a vital and necessary part of our communication with parents and the wider community.
I believe in modelling by example, about learning with my students and about creating my digital footprint as a reflection of myself as a learner and a teacher.